Thursday, 22 December 2016

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!


Hope you're all making the most of the last day or two of Saturnalia but saving a libation for Sol Invictus on the 25th.

May Marduk tame all but your entertaining monsters.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

It's the End of the World. Again.

Yes indeedy doody, the end of the world... at least according to one A. Chakrabortty writing in the Guardian on Friday.

Tim Worstall restricts himself to pointing out that Wolfgang Streeck, the subject of the piece, is an (economic) sociologist, not - as claimed -  a (political) economist.

But I think it is much shittier than that. AC is visiting a Caravaggio exhibition with WS on the morning of Trump's election, indeed an apocalyptic moment as any wag and many a Hillarista will tell you, if they haven't already

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:52

You don’t merely look at a Caravaggio; you square up to one
At a scene of cardsharps he [WS] exclaims, “Feel the decadence! The threat of violence!” He notes how many paintings date from just before the thirty years’ war: “They’re full of the anticipation that the world is about to fall apart.”
Caravaggio started his apprenticeship in 1584 and died in 1610, so in fact all of his paintings inevitably date from between 34 and 8 years before the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War in 1618. He was an Italian working in Italy. How his work might relate to events in Hungary, Bohemia, Saxony &c eight years after his death is a mystery to me.

I might note that the world did not fall apart in 1618, observe that WS and AC are not art historians or any sort of historians at all, and suggest that AC furthermore appears bereft of anything resembling common sense or honesty.

This summer, Britons mutinied against their government, their experts and the EU – and consigned themselves to a poorer, angrier future. Such frenzies of collective self-harm were explained by Streeck in the [book you're all crying out to read]
Mutinied! Against their Government (who were unanimous in their opposition to any referendum on EU membership or the possibility of Brexit)! Their experts (who are always and undisputedly right)! And against.........................omfg...................... the EU!

I am not a Guardian reader, having no appreciation of the art of the post-truth, post-fact, post-reality newspaper hack. I doubt, on this showing, the mental capacity of those who are and do.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

In the Courts

Serious as the point is, this from the Secret Barrister

We now know that the principal nature of this fresh evidence was as follows:
  1. A man, O, gave evidence that, two weeks after 29 May 2011, he had been out drinking with X, and had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse, during which she instructed him to penetrate her vaginally from behind, shouting, “Fuck me harder”. 
  2. A second man, S, gave evidence that, on 28 May 2011, X had engaged him in a night of drunken sexual activity, in which she adopted the same sexual position and used words, “Go harder”.
Evans’ case at trial was that X had acted in the same way on the 29 May 2011, encouraging him to penetrate her “doggy style” and using the words “fuck me harder”. This, it was argued, demonstrated that she was consenting, and also supported the reasonableness of his belief that she was consenting.

reminded me of Cocklecarrot's chaotic cases with the twelve red-bearded dwarves.

Nothing like a good hearty laugh to chase the clouds away, eh chums?

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Brexit: the Narratives Roll On

The electorate are conservative, as any fule kno. The majority keep voting for the status quo until the existing dispensation is very obviously broken.

So the first Thatcher administration of 1979 eventually dies under John Major in 1997. Blair's creation fails when the voters are asked to endorse Gordon Brown in 2010. The Lib Dems lose the 2015 election but the Conservatives keep going.

That 52% of a high turnout rejected the status quo and the EU on Thursday 23rd June, and with placid political and economic conditions prevailing, is a remarkable thing; a thing almost unremarked in the aftermath.

Instead there is a tidal wave of "divided Britain" sewage from the reactionaries, seeking to explain the outcome in spurious characterisations always disparaging of the Leave vote (have education / haven't; have money / haven't; young and bright / senile coffin-dodger; enlightened überbeing / racist troglodyte; etc).

To half the electorate, the EU appeared so defective even in calm weather that they turned against it.

Kindly explain that, o pundits.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brussels Broadcasting Corporation: Towards a New Narrative

The referendum was ostensibly about membership of the European Union. But voters took it to be asking a different question: what kind of country do you want Britain to be? 

Yesterday seemed to offer a fork in the road: one path (Remain) promised it would lead to a modern world of opportunity based on interdependence; the other (Leave) was advertised as a route to an independent land that would respect tradition and heritage.

Which path people took depended on the prism through which they saw the world.
Thus Mark Easton, BBC Home Editor, this morning.

Only ostensibly about membership, you note: hoi polloi are far too cretinous, bless 'em, to understand that the EU Referendum was really about membership of the EU.

We Leave voters have turned our backs on the modern world of opportunity! a world of 28 countries in which we have chosen sullen isolation. Oh, the Bright (and Modern) Young Things who tried to take us there!

And I was thinking there were around 190 countries in the world. But only a hidebound dull-witted old fogey like m'self would work under such a retrograde delusion.

The BBC is getting its Narrative nicely polished up: the chattering classes are invited to Deplore.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

And As For That L. Calpurnius Piso...

 L. Sergius Catalina, and not L. Calpurnius Piso at all, by Maccari.
Crime, vice and corruption in the last age of the Republic are embodied in types as perfect of their kind as are the civic and moral paragons of early days; which is fitting, for the evil and the good are both the fabrication of skilled literary artists. Catalina is the perfect monster - murder and debauchery of every degree. Clodius inherited his policy and his character; and Clodia committed incest with her brother and poisoned her husband. The enormities of P. Vatinius ranged from human sacrifices to the wearing of a black toga at a banquet. Piso and Gabinius were a brace of vultures, rapacious and obscene. Piso to public view seemed all eyebrows and antique gravity. What dissimulation, what inner turpitude and nameless orgies within four walls! As domestic chaplain and preceptor in vice, Piso hired an Epicurean philosopher, and, corrupting the corrupt, compelled him to write indecent verses. This at Rome; in his province lust was matched with cruelty. Virgins of the best families at Byzantium cast themselves down wells to escape the vile proconsul; and the blameless chieftains of Balkan tribes, loyal allies of the Roman People, were foully done to death. Piso's colleague Gabinius curled his hair, gave exhibitions of dancing at fashionable dinner-parties and brutally impeded the lawful occupations of important Roman financiers in Syria. Marcus Antonius was not merely a ruffian and a gladiator, a drunkard and a debauchee - he was effeminate and a coward. Instead of fighting at Caesar's side in Spain, he lurked at Rome. How different was gallant young Dolabella! The supreme enormity - Antonius, by demonstrating affection towards his own wife, made a mock of Roman decorum and decency.

R Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939) p149 (1982 edn)

 Black toga at a banquet, chap being lovey to his wife! Whatever is the world coming to?

The whole chapter "Political Catchwords" is a tour de force.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Ever Grander Grandiosity


A grand statement from Donald Duck Tusk (Polish, Poland):

"As a historian I fear Brexit could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety," he told the German newspaper Bild.

Must be an extremely shit historian then.

Oh, I forgot, Polish. Wouldn't know a "political civilisation" if you shunted one up his fundament.

"Free country"?


Saturday, 11 June 2016

Mistakes For Dummies

Stephen Gethins (SNP, North East Fife): What’s the Prime Minister’s worst mistake in his time in office?

David Cameron (Con, Witney): The time to reflect on your mistakes is when you’re close to the end of your time in office, so that doesn’t apply!

PMQs 5th June

Malapropos, then, to reflect on your mistakes while you're making or shortly after you've made them. Orrrrr before you make them.

So's you can just plough on with making those mistakes.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

Bill Gates seems to have fallen for the Chicken Fallacy.

They lay eggs for food and sale; they make more chickens to lay more eggs and make more chickens; if they need feeding at all the feed is cheap; they don't stray so no maintenance effort required: what can possibly go wrong?

So for the longest time chicken farming has been the lazy man's easy road to self-sufficiency. Failed chicken farmers of note include Betty MacDonald (author of the bestselling The Egg and I - at least she did find a way of turning chickens into cash)  and Heinrich Himmler.

Day trading, Bill, that's the modern way to get your meathooks into the money. You're just a few mouseclicks away from the mountains of moolah. Work as little as you like, make as much as you want. Infallible, as my handy guide "Day Trade Your Way to Plenty: the Secrets Wall Street Doesn't Want You to Know" ($75.50, few copies left so order now) explains.

Friday, 3 June 2016

No Theory Please, We're Roman

C. Octavius, now C. Julius Caesar Octavianus and with no emphasis on the "Octavianus" (he was Caesar the Dictator's great-nephew and adopted son) within months of the Ides of March, 44 BC:

Such were the resources that Octavianus gathered in late summer and autumn of the year. Men and money were the first thing, next the skill and resolution to use them. An inborn and Roman distrust of theory, an acute sense of the difference between words and facts, a brief acquaintance with Roman political behaviour - that he possessed and that was all he needed. It is a common belief, attested by the existence of political science as a subject of academic study, that the arts of government may be learned from books. The revolutionary career of Caesar's heir reveals never a trace of theoretical preoccupations: if it did, it would have been very different and very short.

R Syme, The Roman Revolution (1939) p120 (1982 edn)

Syme completes the chapter "Caesar's Heir" with a magnificent review of Octavianus' position and political education:

He soon took measure of Antonius: the Caesarian soldier was a warning against the more generous virtues and vices. Another eminent Roman could furnish a text in the school of politics. The failure of Cicero as a statesman showed the need for courage and constancy in all the paths of duplicity. A change of front in politics is not disastrous unless caused by delusion or indecision. The treacheries of Octavianus were conscious and consistent.

Syme is here, as elsewhere, also down on biographers in recasting the fall of the 'Free State':

But it is not enough to redeem Augustus from panegyric and revive the testimony of the vanquished cause. That would merely substitute one form of biography for another. At its worst, biography is flat and schematic: at the best, it is often baffled by the hidden discords of human nature. Moreover, undue insistence upon the character and exploits of a single person invests history with dramatic unity at the expense of truth. However talented and powerful in himself, the Roman statesman cannot stand alone, without allies, without a following[...] In all ages, whatever the form and name of government, be it monarchy, republic or democracy, an oligarchy lurks behind the façade; and Roman history, Republican or Imperial, is the history of the governing class. 

As Syme points out, nobody at the time knew what was going to happen next. Yet the natures and foibles of the rest, Antony, Cicero, Cassius, Brutus, are discernible; redeemed from biography the characterless Octavianus' rise seems inexorable.

Writing in 1939, terms Syme uses such as 'Free State', 'New State', 'Commonwealth', 'July days', have a weight to them. Did contemporaries use these terms?

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A Reader Writes

Dear Aunty Agony,

I am trying to work out where I am on the scale in your Computer Dating Sex Quiz but unfortunately without result so far.

Sexually, I feel I am more of a Wachoffizier aboard an Unterseeboot Typ VIIC patrolling south of Iceland sort of chap.
Can you help?
[name and address withheld]

Aunty Agony Says: This here is a family blog and we do not cater for perverts.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Computer Dating - The Sex Quiz!

Sexually, on a scale of 1 to 10 are you

1   Happy Hippo at the mud wallow
10 Antonius Block playing chess with Death

Me, around 3 and no end of Fastidious Female Friends.

Think I might take up Railway Modelling instead: less heartbreaking; easier on the wallet.

The Mills of God Grind Slow, but they Grind Fine

There is something spookily right about the fate of the 28 панфиловцев, Panfilov's ghostly Guardsmen.
A totalitarian State, given a near-limitless fund of genuine heroics to select from, inexorably latches onto and magnifies an event which never actually occurred and finds that it cannot then erase its error, though it has erased so much else.

Ideology trashes truth and fact: and goes on to trash the ideologues and the ideology.

That this is not revealed until decades after said State has collapsed, is God's little joke and warning.
The daily and undignified celebration of our own poltroonery courtesy of our elected representatives, or the relentless and insurmountable imbecility of the Absolute?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Squareheads on the March. Again.

Pictured: some Boxheads today.

Breaking news: Germany pushes for EU army!

Thus the latest seriously bad idea to bob to the surface of our subcontinent-wide European Seriously Bad Ideas Lake.

It would mean allowing Krauts to take military responsibility for something bigger than their own army.

This is a seriously bad idea because the Jerries are notably rubbish at most things warry, in particular at:

i)     grand strategy;
ii)    strategy;
iii)   operations;
iv)   logistics;
v)    intelligence;
vi)   etc;
vii)  humility.

Tragically for the world they are good at:

viii) tactics,

making it very costly to kill them off and quell the commotion once the balloon's gone up.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

EU... if FIFA was a Government...

With a huzza! boys for Her Majesty, Shakespeare and St George!

And a demnation on Festung Europa!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Colleagues, Co-Workers

Colleagues, co-workers:
  • why are they incompetent, devious and malevolent?
  • why do they look like Uncle Fester?
These are just some of the profound mysteries that are to be explored in up-coming posts, and to no avail.

Whereas ME...

...noble, intelligent, capable, decisive, courageous, kind: not your run-of-the-mill colleague or co-worker at all. So why am I one?

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

T S Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1920)

The Tigress of Nescience

Not only Arjuna, but every one of us is full of anxieties because of this material existence. Actually we are not meant to be threatened by nonexistence. Our existence is eternal. But somehow or other we are put into asat. Asat refers to that which does not exist [...] Actually we are all swallowed by the tigress of nescience...

A C Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is (2015) p8

Friday, 29 January 2016

Tennis Integrity Unit

Four combat tours and a slew of black ops with the Navy Seal Spetsnaz Rangers. Left the Service and passed some time watching the world go by through the bottom of a Jack Daniels bottle.

An old buddy picked me up off a bar floor somewhere out west of nowhere. Come on in, fella, we need a good man like you.

Didn't tell me he was walking me into the Tennis Integrity Unit.


Don' you go an be no foo'
Get yo bad ass in da TIU.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Why The British Will Never Be Successfully Civilised

Put nice trays and stubbing plates on top of bins to encourage the good Citizen to put out his or her cigarette there

and the dog-ends start to collect on bins that have so such Amenity

and on pretty much anything that sticks out of the pavement.

Which is, if you ask me, a Good Thing.